Careers – Consider a Career as an Occupational Hygienist

Consider a Career as an Occupational Hygienist

What is occupational hygiene?

Occupational Hygiene, or Industrial Hygiene, according to the International Occupational Hygiene Association, is the ?discipline of anticipating, recognising, evaluating, and controlling health hazards in the working environment with the objective of protecting worker health and well-being and safeguarding the community at large.?

Occupational hygienists are involved in the assessment and minimization of chemical, biological, or physical hazards in the working environment. In Canada, the Canadian Registration Board of Occupational Hygienists is a national non-profit organization used to prescribe standards of practice.

Education and training

An undergraduate degree in any scientific discipline is the minimum acceptable standard to be employed as an occupational hygienist. However, due to the technical expertise required for the position, a master’s degree specializing in Occupational and Environmental Health is an asset.

There are currently three occupational hygiene postgraduate programs in Canada. They are at the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, and McGill University.

Difference between occupational hygiene and industrial hygiene

There is a great deal of confusion surrounding the differences between occupational hygiene and industrial hygiene. In the United States, the term industrial hygiene is used almost exclusively, whereas occupational hygiene is mostly used in the U.K. In Canada, these terms are used interchangeably.

Typical positions of occupational hygienists

Given the broad description of the position, there are many duties and tasks that might be required for an occupational hygienist.

According to the Canadian Council of Occupational Hygiene (CCOH), the typical roles of an occupational hygienist include:

? Investigating and examining the workplace for hazards and potential dangers

? Making recommendations on improving the safety of workers and the surrounding community

? Conducting scientific research to provide data on possible harmful conditions in the workplace

? Developing techniques to anticipate and control potentially dangerous situations in the workplace and the community

? Training and educating the community about job-related risks

? Advising government officials and participating in the development of regulations to ensure the health and safety of workers and their families

? Ensuring that workers are properly following health and safety procedures

Job prospects and salary

Graduates of the Professional Graduate Programs are at a greater advantage in procuring employment. The majority, approximately 40 per cent, work in the industrial sector, such as manufacturing, aerospace, steel and mining, and petrochemical industries.

Many also work in the public sector for provincial and federal governments, universities, hospitals, and public utilities. After many years of experience, an occupational hygienist may choose to join a consulting firm. A small minority pursue further degrees, going into a career in research and academia.

The salary for recent graduates can vary depending on the industry in which they choose to work. However, newly hired occupational hygienists generally earn between $30 and $35 an hour.

Professional credentials

Those occupational hygienists who meet the minimum amount of work experience and pass the required examinations are authorized to use the designation Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH). In Canada, the equivalent is the Registered Occupational Hygienist or ROH.

For more information on occupational hygiene as a career, visit the American Board of Industrial Hygiene or the Canadian Registration Board of Occupational Hygienists.

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